With temperatures inching toward 80 degrees this weekend, King County officials urge everyone to be careful when heading out for fun on the water.
From Public Health – Seattle & King County
Warm air temperatures don’t translate to warm water temperatures.
In fact, unseasonably warm weather will accelerate the typical Cascade Range spring snowmelt, and rivers will be running swift with icy cold runoff for weeks to come.
Lakes and Puget Sound are also quite cold this time of year, and swimmers can suffer from cold-water shock after just a few minutes in the water.
King County officials are on high alert because 17 people died in preventable drownings in the county in 2015.
King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the King County Sheriff’s Office encourage kayakers, boaters, rafters, swimmers and other river users to check conditions and scout rivers thoroughly for hazards before entering the water.
“I urge everyone to use caution when going into the water, particularly in springtime when warm weather and cold water create a deadly combination,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “Don’t drink, and always wear a life jacket.”
In 2015, Public Health – Seattle & King County found that 17 people died in preventable drowning incidents.
Of these, 12 (70 percent) took place in open water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, or Puget Sound.
Of the 12 open water deaths, nine (75 percent), may have been prevented with lifejacket use.
Over half (52 percent) of all King County deaths involved alcohol and or other drugs in the last five years.
In 2014, there were 98 unintentional drowning deaths of Washington residents. 16 of these deaths were children and young adults under 20 years old.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teens age 1-17 in Washington.